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Chidambaram takes a dig at Election Commission for not announcing Gujarat poll dates, CM hits back

Friday, Oct 20, 2017,17:59 IST By anju A A A

New Delhi/Ahmedabad | Congress leader P Chidambaram today took a swipe at the Election Commission for not announcing the schedule for the upcoming polls in Gujarat yet, saying wryly it has “authorised” Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the dates at his “last rally” in the state.

In a series of tweets dripping with sarcasm, the former finance and home minister also claimed that the Election Commission will be “recalled” from its “extended holiday” after the Gujarat government has announced all “concessions and freebies”. Modi is due to visit Gujarat on Sunday.

“EC has authorised PM to announce date of Gujarat elections at his last rally (and kindly keep EC informed),” he tweeted.

The EC had on October 12 announced that polling for the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh will take place on November 9, but held off announcing the Gujarat schedule.

It had just said the polling in the western state would be held before December 18 when counting of votes in HP will be taken up.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani hit out at Chidambaram over his dig at the Election Commission and said the opposition party is “scared” of the ensuing polls in the BJP-ruled state.

Speaking to reporters in Gandhinagar, Rupani said, “Chidambaramji and the Congress are scared of the upcoming (state assembly) elections.

“We believe elections should happen on due time, and it will happen so. But they are scared due to their desperation. And criticising the Election Commission is not the right thing in a democracy.”

Rupani had earlier countered Congress’ allegations that the government was putting “pressure” on the poll panel to “delay” the announcement of Gujarat poll schedule.

The chief minister had claimed the Congress (then in power at the Centre) had influenced the Election Commission in deciding dates for the 2012 Gujarat assembly polls.

The Congress had earlier alleged that the Centre put “pressure” on the poll panel to “delay” the announcement of Gujarat assembly poll schedule to enable the prime minister to act as a “false santa claus” and offer sops, use “jumlas” (rhetoric) during his October 16 visit to his home state.

The model code of conduct would have come into immediate effect in Gujarat had the poll schedule been announced along with Himachal Pradesh, the party had said.

Hitting back at the Congress for targeting the EC, BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said allegations levelled against the constitutional body were without any basis.

“It is absolutely absurd. It’s like questioning the prudence of the EC. The Congress is perhaps speaking out of its own experience where interference in the functioning of constitutional bodies used to be a thing in their rule. Such is not the case since 2014,” he had said.

“Let me also add, this tells that they are jittery about BJP’s prospects in the state,” Prasad had said.